BRIDGING THE GAP — The South Cascade and Miller Road Bridge, which connects Erie and Cattaraugus counties, will be replaced, in 2015. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
SPRINGVILLE — New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald announced that federal funding has been allocated, for the replacement of the high-level bridge over Cattaraugus Creek in the towns of Concord and Ashford, the South Cascade and Miller Road Bridge.
Due to structural concerns, the existing bridge, built in 1956, was temporarily closed to all traffic, in 2012. Emergency structural repairs were accelerated by the department and the bridge was re-opened, ahead of schedule. The bridge remains open and posted, for a maximum weight limit of 15 tons.
“This is great news, the kind of information that is important and exciting to share,” said Springville Mayor William Krebs. “There are millions of federal dollars, that will serve this community, for generations to come. It’s coming right to our backyards.”
Krebs added that the new bridge will replace “old, stressed technology” and, although the bridge is outside the village limits, he and other village officials feel that the construction will be beneficial to the community.
“We pride ourselves on keeping up with our infrastructure, that we control, within the village,” Krebs added. “It’s great to see the state and federal government working with us.”
Town of Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito commended both local officials and the community for working together, to achieve a goal.
“The news that the New York State Department of Transportation will be replacing the old Route 219 bridge over the Cattaraugus Creek is certainly welcomed news,” he said. “I think we learned, a while back, how important the old bridge is to the economy of the entire area. The fact that a new bridge will be built demonstrates what can be accomplished, when a community works together.”
McDonald said that the new bridge will “serve the needs of our communities,” as the NYSDOT continues to work with federal, state and local officials to improve New York state infrastructure. “Area residents and local businesses made it clear that they depend heavily on this bridge crossing as an important transportation link between Erie and Cattaraugus counties and a vital conduit, for the local economy.”
Rep. Tom Reed, whose district includes Cattaraugus County, said his office has been advocating for the bridge to be repaired, since his election.
“We are pleased to hear the state has decided to improve such a critical lifeline to our local economy as the Route 219 bridge,” Reed said. “During a meeting with highway commissioners, just last month, we discussed the Route 219 project and its prospects. Today, thanks to successful partnerships with local, state and federal partners, we are pleased to join in recognizing that funds will ensure safe, reliable transportation for all who use the 219 corridor.”
Congressman Chris Collins said, “While divided by Cattaraugus Creek, southern Erie and Cattaraugus counties are, in many ways, one community. The former Route 219 bridge is critical to this dynamic. Its replacement will ensure safe and convenient travel will occur, between these two counties, for a long time to come, to the benefit of the local economy. This is an appropriate use of federal tax dollars and I look forward to the completion of this project.”
Congressman Brian Higgins, whose district included the Erie County portion of the bridge until January 2013 said that the replacement “satisfied a critical transportation need.
“Not long ago, when the condition of the bridge severely impacted local merchants, our office joined with residents, community leaders and our partners in government, to address the situation. Now, with the allocation of these federal funds, the state can ensure this critical link remains open for businesses, as well as for regional and international visitors who use the 219 corridor, every day.”
Senator Catharine Young called the announcement “a huge relief to small businesses and residents” and “tremendously important to our economy and quality of life.”
Young added, “This project will create construction jobs and continue commerce. I salute the governor and DOT for their leadership and thank local residents for their advocacy. Citizens can and do make a difference, every day.”
SIGN OF THE TIMES — Construction signs, like these leftovers from the last bridge construction, will pop back up at the bridge site, once the design phase is completed.
Senator Patrick Gallivan said that residents and businesses located in Springville and northern Cattaraugus County have made their sentiments about the bridge known, for many years. “The old Route 219 bridge is more than a viaduct connecting two counties. It is an essential component of their local identity and economic future. News that federal funding has been secured, to replace the existing structure with a modern span, is a direct result of their years of patience and persistence.”
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio applauded the NYSDOT for allocating funds for the project and “continuing to be fully engaged with the community, about the repair and replacement of the bridge.”
Legislator John Mills said he was pleased to learn about the funding’s being secured.
“After many months of apprehension, I was pleased to learn that the funding is in place to replace the former Route 219 bridge connecting Erie and Cattaraugus counties,” Mills said. “In the past, residents and businesses have had to deal with the bridge being closed, due to unsafe conditions which threatened the local economy. The replacement of this bridge is critical, for this region.”
Assemblyman David DiPietro thanked those who worked to secure the funds. “I’m glad we were able to come through, for the people of my community, who have been more than patient about the completion of this major project.”
The NYSDOT monitors bridge safety, through an inspection system. The South Cascade Drive and Miller Road Bridge over Cattaraugus Creek is inspected, on an annual basis.
The bridge replacement project is now in preliminary design. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.
Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Erika Thurkins said that the chamber is already developing a strategic plan, to help support local business, especially along South Cascade Drive, as the bridge project takes place.
“The construction project will, of course, cause hardship for our business members in 2015,” she said.
“Just a few years ago, the village of Hamburg business community pulled together, through their extensive Main Street construction project. By pooling resources, marketing together and holding special events, they kept their merchants’ doors open and did not lose a single business, despite road closings and heavy construction. We plan to model our efforts on their very successful campaign and will work hard to support our members, throughout the construction.”